Abbott Responds to New York Ad That Calls Him Discriminatory With Tone-Deaf Tweet

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New York, like the rest of the country, was apparently taking notes when Texas tried to defy the Supreme Court's ruling that legalized gay marriage, and also refused to follow federal guidelines that afford transgender kids equal access to proper bathrooms.

Because on Wednesday, New York's chief economic development agency released a two-minute ad that promotes New York businesses for always valuing diversity and inclusion — unlike other states. Like Texas. In calling out the state, the ad quotes a Houston Press headline from June of last year, following the legalization of gay marriage: “Gov. Abbott Says Public Officials Can Discriminate Against Gay People.” 

After celebrating New York's history of opposing slavery during the Civil War, opening its arms to immigrants arriving at Ellis Island and treating the LGBTQ community with respect, the ad also includes headlines from newspapers across the country about other states' attempts to block Syrian refugees, restrict bathrooms for transgender people and refuse business to gay people (all of which Texas has also attempted to do).

Interestingly, Governor Greg Abbott responded to the ad not by refuting our headline and saying something such as, “We welcome all people in Texas and do not discriminate against the LGBTQ community,” but by slamming New York's economic climate. He said in a tweet that the ad “omits how New York led the way in taxes, regulations, union abuses, high living costs & how New Yorkers are fleeing to TX.”

Abbott is indeed correct: As the Texas Tribune reported, more than 21,000 people fled New York for Texas, while only roughly 14,800 fled Texas for New York, according to the U.S. Office of the State Demographer.

However, as many Texans pointed out in response to Abbott's above tweet, it was a rather tone-deaf argument to make in the face of allegations that he has fostered a discriminatory, homophobic environment — sometimes in the name of “religious liberty,” as he claimed in his attempt to defy the Supreme Court's gay-marriage ruling, at other times for “public safety.”

One Texan, Patrick Coffey, wrote to the governor, “You're bad at explaining things away. NY being expensive has nothing to do with your desire for TX to be homophobic,” adding a passive-aggressive smiley face at the end.

Another, named Ken Lowery, said, “So you're not contesting the 'I'm a bigot' thing, huh.'”

Several others said that, actually, they fled Texas for New York because they preferred equality.

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